INDEPENDENCIA.

Most of Lago Enriquillo, a vast salt lake with water three times saltier than the ocean, is within this westernmost province. The region has the most unusual flora and fauna on the island of Hispaniola: two kinds of iguanas, crocodiles, turtles, and a wide variety of both sea and land birds, including bright pink flamingos, numerous egrets and herons, and Roseate Spoonbills.

In the center of the lake is Isla Cabritas, which is a national park and crocodile nursery. All around the area, in sharp contrast to the thorny bushes and desert cacti, are lush areas where mineral springs (many sulphurous) bubble up to the surface, providing refreshing swimming holes for residents and visitors alike; the most popular are at Boca de Cachón, Barías, La Sufrada, and Zurza. Just outside the park entrance in La Descubierta, towering above the lake’s northern shore, are the ancient

Las Caritas, faces that the Taínos carved in stone hundreds of years ago. The province also has two other national parks, Sierra de Neyba and Sierra de Baoruco, the El Caoba (Mahogany) forest reserve, and fertile intermontane valleys.

The region is like a huge experimental farm where underground irrigation and the constant sun make agricultural “miracles” possible year round.